So here are some facts. In 2015, 147 people died in France as victims of terrorist attacks. In an exceptionally bad year this total exceeds the body count for the previous 30 years combined.
Yet even in 2015, the likelihood of being killed in a terror attack in France was just 1 in 480,000 – almost one in half a million. Compare this with what your local statistics might say about being the victim of a random attack. Statistically the huge majority of visitors to France will remain many times more likely to be the victim of a traffic accident at home than the victim of a terrorist attack in France. So in spite of the alarmist warnings about Paris, there can only be one answer to the question “Is it safe to visit France?” Absolutely YES. France is safe and generally speaking, Paris is safe. And unless some massive international terror campaign should break out in the coming weeks and months, France will remain a safe place to visit and with some perspective this can be clearly shown.
There are over 30,000 districts, known as communes, in France and for all but 200 of these the risk of terror is rated at NIL. For the remaining sensitive or symbolic communes there is a risk that someone or some people will plan an attack, which is why the terror alert in France, as in many other countries, is currently high. But the risk of any of these planned outrages actually succeeding has remained low. Some will; most won’t. It is quite possible that there will be one or more terrorist attacks in France in the months ahead, but it is highly unlikely that you, the potential visitor reading this blog, will get caught up in it.
The next terrorist attack, when it comes, may be again in Paris; but it is just as likely to be in London, or Manchester, or Brussels, or New York, or Los Angeles, or Berlin, or Madrid, or Sydney, or Copenhagen… not to mention Bombay or Karachi. And it might be somewhere else in France – Lyon or Toulouse, just as it could be in Lisbon or Stockholm or Edinburgh or Munich or Innsbruck. It could be at a major world airport, or on a train somewhere. While there are huge security operations ensuring that these are prevented, no one knows and no one can accurately predict these events.
On the other hand some things are certain. Paris is a target because it represents much of what Europeans and other democratic nations admire. At present there is tight security in and around the French capital, and in any event it is a very large city, so the likelihood of actually being in the wrong place at the wrong time is low.
While France in 2016 remains an amazing place to visit, don’t get lazy. Get informed and follow local news and travel advice sensibly – and of course get yourself insured so no matter what you’ve got the right cover and the right planb if and when you’re in need.